Report of the Committee on Constitutional Business
The Committee on Constitutional Business (CCB ) met one time subsequent to the 31st General Assembly, on April 22, 2004 in Atlanta, GA. At that meeting all work assigned to the Committee was completed. Attendance at the meeting was as follows:
TE Bryan Chapell - present RE Dan Carrell - present
TE Larry Hoop - present RE Frederick (Jay) Neikirk - present
TE Karl McCallister - present RE E.J. Nusbaum - present
TE Mark Rowden - present RE John Weiss (alternate) - excused
TE Morton Smith (alternate) - excused RE David Yates - excused
TE Roy Taylor (Stated Clerk) - present
II. Advice on Overtures
A. Overture 1 from Heritage Presbytery: Add Knowledge of Holy Scripture to Ordination Requirements for Ruling Elders and Deacons.
In the opinion of the CCB Overture 1 is not in conflict with other parts of the Constitution. In addition, we would note a) that there is no clear evidence that the lack of this requirement was inadvertent; and b) that the proposed amendment, as written, may also create a constitutional ambiguity with regard to its application to already ordained elders and deacons, particularly those serving on rotating boards. Adopted 7-0-0.
B. Overture 2 from Eastern Canada Presbytery: Amend BCO 24-3 Regarding Election of Ruling Elders and Deacons.
In the opinion of the CCB Overture 2 is not in conflict with other parts of the Constitution, with the notation that in the second line of the Therefore paragraph the parenthetical to be deleted is (See also BCO 20-4)" rather than (See also BCO 20-5)" as the Overture indicates.
C. Overture 5 from Westminster Presbytery: Revise Makeup of Ridge Haven Board of Trustees.
In the opinion of the CCB Overture 5 is not properly before the CCB. Overture 5 is, in effect, asking for a proposal to change the governing structure for Ridge Haven. At a minimum this would include changes in the RAO and Corporate Bylaws of the PCA. Apart from specific language proposed to the General Assembly to effect these changes, CCB can provide no further advice on this matter. Adopted 7-0-0
D. Overture 6 from the Session of Ellisville Presbyterian Church: Amend BCO 13-1, 14-2, 23-2, 24-9 et altera to Restrict Teaching Elders Voting in Presbyteries and General Assembly to Pastors and Associate Pastors Only.
In the opinion of the CCB Overture 6 from the Session of Ellisville Presbyterian Church is in conflict with other parts of the Constitution. As we reported last year (M31GA p. 163), BCO 3-1 specifies that the power is committed by Christ to His Church in the whole body. The present BCO 14-2 recognizes that fundamental principle and specifically delineates that TEs are entitled to representation growing out of the membership in their presbytery not their local church. The proposed overture violates the concept of BCO 3-1 in that it denies that the power of Christ is given to His whole church...to include the presbytery. The overture assumes the power is invested only in the local church. The effect of this overture would be to disenfranchise all TEs who are not pastors or associate pastors. This would include but not be limited to: military chaplains, missionaries, church planters, presbytery evangelists, seminary and college professors, General Assembly committee staff, any TEs laboring out of bounds, etc. Adopted 6-0-0 with TE Chapell recusing himself.
E. Overture 7 from James River Presbytery: Amend BCO 57-5 Regarding Adding a Congregations Vow at a Profession of Faith.
In the opinion of the CCB Overture 7 from James River Presbytery is not in conflict with other parts of the Constitution. Adopted 7-0-0.
F. Overture 8 from North Texas Presbytery: Amend BCO 24-9 to Delete Age Requirements of Ruling Elders or Deacons Emeriti.
In the opinion of the CCB Overture 8 from North Texas Presbytery is not in conflict with other parts of the Constitution. Adopted 7-0-0.
G. Overture 9 from Grace Presbytery: Regarding Doctrinal Subscription, Amend BCO Preface, Section II, Preliminary Principles (by addition), Chapter 16 (by addition), and 21-4 (by deletion).
In the opinion of the CCB Overture 9 from Grace Presbytery is in conflict with the Second Ordination Vow (BCO 21-5.2; 24-5.2).
a. The Overture states that truth is revealed in the Scriptures...as interpreted by the Westminster Confession of Faith as opposed to the Second Ordination Vow that states that the Westminster Confession of Faith contain[s] the system of doctrine taught in the Holy Scriptures. This would leave the PCA with a Preliminary Principle that would seem to elevate the Confession of Faith above Scripture.
b. There is confusion in the Overtures understanding regarding the process whereby exceptions are established. The proposed overture states that any difference with the Standards that the man declares is to be identified as an exception. This is in conflict with our historic practice and present Constitution that says the man declares his differences but the presbytery determines whether they are truly exceptions (BCO 21-5.2; 13-9.a,f). This procedure is necessary because there is an historic gradation of differences within the Standards; i.e., scruples, reservations, and exceptions.
c. The language of the proposed 16-3b is in conflict with the Second Ordination Vow in that it goes beyond the Second Ordination Vow. The language of the Overture is ...any officer who has been ordained, shall inform the court...of any instance where he may differ..., while the Second Ordination Vow states If at any time you find yourself out of accord with any of the fundamentals of this system of doctrine, you will on your own initiative make known to your presbytery the change.... Adopted 7-0-0.
H. Overture 10 from Nashville Presbytery: Amend BCO 15-4 to Allow One TE and One RE from the Same Presbytery to Serve on the SJC.
In the opinion of the CCB Overture 10 from Nashville Presbytery is not in conflict with other parts of the Constitution. Adopted 7-0-0
III. Advice to the Stated Clerk
The Stated Clerk presented by letter six matters on which he had rendered advice and for which he requested the concurrence of the CCB. Under the provision of RAO 7-2(1) such advice is not reported to the General Assembly. The CCB hereby reports to the General Assembly that it concurs with the Stated Clerks advice in each case, noting only one suggested change in wording.
IV. Minutes of the Standing Judicial Commission
The CCB has read the minutes of the Standing Judicial Commission dated October 16-17, 2003 and March 4, 2004 and found no lack of conformity to RAO 15 and MSJC. Further, the CCB expresses its appreciation to the SJC for providing additional information in its minutes that enables the CCB better to fulfill its responsibilities under RAO 15-1 and SJCM 21-5. Adopted 7-0-0.
RE Dan Carrell, RE Frederick Neikirk,